Darren first came to live at Shelby Court in August 2013
He had first been given a mental health diagnosis in 2006. Darren did not have a stable domestic environment to grow up in and effectively stopped attending school at fourteen. Later in life, he was assessed as having a learning disability.
Darren established a bond with one of his siblings, his eldest half-sister and to this day she has always looked out for him, always attempted to put his best interests first, even when there was physical distance between them; with her living and working in the United States. Darren does have fond memories of childhood, especially the things he did with his mother and half siblings. He tells me as a child, he appeared in a television commercial for a Nigerian Beer.
In the immediate period to his mental health diagnosis in 2006, Darren seriously self-neglected and self-isolated, refusing to leave his room, for weeks at a time. This necessitated two periods in hospital of initially four months and then after a short period an additional two months. Darren found it a difficult situation within the ward environment and due to his own vulnerabilities, became a victim of bullying.
Once discharged from hospital, Darren entered the care system, spending the first year at a hostel then nearly 6 years at two other supported living providers, before finally coming to Shelby Court.
Darren ’s experience of being in the care system was largely positive, although prior to being referred to Shelby Court, his previous placement had effectively broken down.
Darren’s eldest sibling, was intent for him being resettled at another provider. Darren had begun to self-neglect again, his personal appearance; often wearing the same clothing for days at a time and not showering. He neglected his living environment, to the extent that it became infested with mice.
Darren had been self-medicating but had stopped taking his medication for a sustained period, which he admitted to a third party.
Darren admits to being an impulsive spender when it comes to money and soon had a large personal debt, as a result of using a credit card, He would buy games consoles, games, DVDs, and takeaway meals and not think through the consequences, which included leaving him unable to do food shopping; admitting at one stage to not having adequate food for a period of two weeks.
Utilities were neglected, often not having sufficient money to top-up his credit meter for electricity. Darren felt powerless and not in control of his life, was anxious and agitated.
Darren had money extorted from him on several occasions whilst out on the local streets.
When Darren came into our care, it was essential that he gained control of his life, rebuilt confidence in himself and gained self-esteem.
The first aspect that was worked upon with staff support, was to rebuild his financial situation. Darren was happy to enter into a voluntary financial agreement and let staff actively support him with his budgeting. Within time, he became debt free and has now created savings for the first time in his life. This has allowed him to go on a series of holidays, the most recent was in Devon, last summer, buy items like games consoles; he now has two, a large television for his bedroom and pay for his rented flat to be redecorated; more works are planned for the next period.
He fills bottles and containers and packs orders for collection. This has increased his confidence and self-esteem. Darren has a routine to his week and feels valued by his employer, and has formed many friendships with his co-workers. Darren can now also appreciate the value of money.
However, life has not just been about work for Darren. He has built himself an extensive network of social activities, to participate in. The list is not exhaustive, but demonstrates the transformation from someone who would previously self-isolate, to becoming involved with the cinema, gym, church, a singing group, philosophy discussion group, board gaming group, a Friday Evening drop in at a centre for individuals with mental health issues, where Darren has been a Time to Change Advocate.
In additional to all this, Darren has volunteered to work in a community café in Tottenham.
It is possible to see a life transformed.
Darren will acknowledge that there is still work to do, but with staff support, he is determined to take on more responsibility for himself.
Darren looks to the future now with optimism, and would eventually like to be resettled, by stepping down to live in accommodation with less support